*Statement of the Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc., (PMPI), August 18, 2017
The Environment is doomed Our environment is at risk, not from climate change, not from natural hazards, but from mining!
Our key leaders sitting in high places mandated and tasked by law to safeguard our environment are confused as the new Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Director Atty. Wilfredo G. Moncano in a news statement said that MGB’s position is for the lifting of the ban on open-pit mining. Dir. Moncano is now pushing for the reversal of the DENR Administrative Order (DAO) No. 2017-10 issued by former Secretary Gina Lopez that bans open pit mining as an extraction method for copper, gold, silver, and complex ores.
This statement is clearly in contradiction to the previous statement of Secretary Cimatu of DENR that the ban on open-pit mining stays, as well as the strong pronouncement of President Duterte himself against the current situation of the mining industry in the country during his last SONA.
The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) also echoes the MGB Director’s harping on responsible mining and consistently asserts that Open-pit mining is an internationally accepted method and the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 allows it. Yet, these groups have yet to define concretely what “responsible mining” is. Their previous poster boy for responsible mining; Philex Mines in Benguet, was exposed when its mine tailings pond leaked 20 million metric tons of toxic wastes into Benguet’s water channels. Now, they are proudly showing off Rio Tuba. Until when will this poster image hold?
The Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc., (PMPI) a social development network advocating for a sound environmental policy on mineral resource management; calls on DENR-MGB to uphold the ban on open-pit mining. We propose that the ban on open-pit mining must stay until the government has done a thorough review of the appropriateness of this method to the country’s topographical makeup and its overall impact to the environment and the people. We also invite government officials to go to communities currently hosting mining operations, to assess its effects on livelihood, health and biodiversity of the communities.
We ask President Rodrigo Duterte, being the highest leader of the country; to ensure that his alter-egos on environment, the DENR Secretary and all attached agencies to do their jobs and be reminded when he said that,“The protection of the environment must be made a priority ahead of mining and all other activities that adversely affect one way or another. And this policy is non-negotiable.” This is the right time Mr. President for you to exercise your mandate and turn your words into action.